A view from Folkestone

Now living in Maidstone, writer Jane Ayres still feels a strong connection to Folkestone, where she worked for four years at University Centre Folkestone (sadly no more). 

Living by the coast was a long held dream of mine – preferably in a top floor flat with a balcony that overlooked the sea.  My fantasy was fulfilled for a year, after I took the job of Marketing and Outreach Coordinator at the University Centre Folkestone in June 2009. I fell in love with Folkestone on my first visit; it was a hotbed of creativity and destined for an exciting future. Within six months, I made it my home.

"Peter the seagull, a regular visitor to my balcony" photo credit Jane Ayres

“Peter the seagull, a regular visitor to my balcony”
Jane Ayres

Okay, so the flat I was renting overlooked a car park with a side “glimpse” of the sea and the Leas, but I didn’t care.  My walk to work was via the zig-zag path by the Leas Cliff Hall down to the beach, and past the harbour, a wonderful start to the day.  As a writer, you are always asking the question, “What if?” and during these walks I imagined how terrifying and exciting it might be to descend this path on horseback, under a full moon.  And how foolish and dangerous.  This gave me the idea for the novella I wrote while living in Folkestone and the pony thriller Joyrider was born.

Places in Kent feature in much of my work, but the sea is especially inspiring. Living by the statue of William Harvey, one of Folkestone’s famous sons (and sometimes called the father of modern medicine) it was no surprise that I dug deeper into the past and produced an article about the importance of his place in the history of Folkestone for a travel site (for those who want to learn about science while they are sightseeing).

View from Folkestone from Clifftop Cafe
Chris Ayres

Recently, my brother visited from Cornwall, and I was keen to share my favourite places and to remind myself why I had originally fallen in love with the area. Our road trip started with the Clifftop Café on the Old Dover Road at Capel-le-Ferne. Literally on the edge of a cliff, the spectacular views are jaw-dropping; to one side, Folkestone Harbour and the town and the other, the famous white cliffs of Dover.  Look down (if you dare) and it’s a sheer drop to the Warren and the railway. Across the vast expanse of sea, on a clear day, you can see the French coastline. The view is breathtaking. The coffee and homemade orange and lemon cake is delicious, not to mention the bacon sandwiches….


View toward Dover from Clifftop Cafe
Chris Ayres

Next, we drove towards the harbour, and down Wear Bay Rd, which also has a truly spectacular sea view, down to the cobbled Stade, and Sunny Sands.  The harbour is truly picturesque, and really photogenic and great views, as well as food and drink, can be enjoyed from Rocksalt. A walk along the seafront to the historic Leas lift, before a stroll along the beautiful Leas towards the atmospheric Grand makes me reflect on the past – and future – of this fascinating coastal town. It’s no surprise that so many writers have been inspired by Folkestone.

A member of the National Association of Writers in Education and a qualified writing coach, Jane is currently teaching the business of writing at Canterbury Christ Church University, with Making Words Work on Saturday 26th April

Writer HG Wells spent much of life in Folkestone and the HG Wells Short Story competition is now open for entries.

The Creative Quarter in Folkestone is home to artists and makers, independent shops and cafes.

The Folkestone Trienniel will take place from 30 August to 2nd November in 2014.

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